Welcome to the Frequently Asked Questions page. Here the most common questions about Christianity are answered. Just click on a question below to display the answer.
In recent years the educational system and media have taught that all religions do lead to God. Religions are presented as just different paths going up the same mountain, all leading to the same summit. Simple logic, as well as the Bible itself, makes it clear that this cannot be true.
Imagine you were drowning in the sea. You would not want people to stand on the shore and shout instructions about how to swim – especially if they were shouting over each other so that none of them could actually be heard. Worse still, if their instructions and advice were contradicting one another, the situation would be hopeless. However, if somebody dived in and rescued you, how delighted you would be! That’s what you really need, not a list of instructions but a saviour – someone who is willing to jump into the water and risk their life at the cost of saving yours.
To put it very basically, all religions outside of Christianity are a list of “do’s and don’ts”. They aim to bring a person up to God. They are all about what we must do to save our lives, or reach heaven or its equivalent. True Christianity is different. Instead of us trying to reach to God, Christianity is about God coming to down to us. Jesus ‘dived into the sea’ to rescue us. God is too big and holy for small, sinful people like us to try to reach Him. However, God took on Himself humanity, becoming a man, walking on this earth and dying to save us. God has come down to reach and rescue us.
The Bible says that ‘…at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’
That is the amazing truth of Christianity that sets it apart from all other religions, ideas, formulas or sects. It is not about what we have to achieve, but rather what God in Jesus has achieved for us. The fact that He died in order that we might escape the separation we have brought upon ourselves, and that He rose again, is totally different from any other religious teaching.
Only Jesus was pure and sinless. Only He could die to pay the price of sin. God says that there is only one remedy for the sin that is in this world, and that is that Someone should be able to act as our Substitute – Saviour. It sounds extreme – but sin is extreme; it sounds serious – but God takes it seriously. Thankfully, because of His great love for us, Jesus (the One who never did anything wrong) died for us (the ones in the wrong) to bring us to God.
So Jesus died to pay the sentence that was hanging over our heads, but He also came back from the dead. That’s right – He died, and three days after dying He came out of His grave and was alive. It is another unique sequence of events in Jesus’ life. Only Jesus rose from the dead. There is great historical proof that Jesus rose from the dead. One can visit the graves of Mohammed, Buddha, Marx, the gurus, etc, but Jesus’ grave is empty. Jesus is very much alive!
All religions do lead to God, in the sense that every individual will stand before God as judge. Every religion other than Christianity leads to God ‘on the throne of judgement’ whereas Jesus leads His people to God the Father ‘on the throne of grace’. Jesus said He was the only way to the Father (God), “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but by Me.” – John 14:6. Either He was and is an arrogant liar and we can ignore Him – or He is right and we should follow Him. Peter, Jesus’ disciple added, “God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
The Apostle Paul wrote, “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” – 1 Timothy 2:5. If we examine it, and are willing to swim against the prevailing tide, we will find that all the evidence shows Jesus is who He said He is and we should worship Him.
Is it possible to have a God that both loves and judges: if God is a God of love, how can He judge too?
In reality judgement proves God’s love. If God doesn’t judge then He doesn’t love. Let me explain. First, we are tempted to think of love as an emotional feeling of warmth or affection, but true love is far more than this. It is demonstrated in God, who is altogether loving. His love is pure and perfect. He cares about us, and about what happens to us. His love is so strong that He hates anything which spoils His lovely creation.
What kind of father would not care if his daughter was attacked? He’d be angry, and rightly so. It would be both natural and worthy to desire justice to be done. In the same way, God doesn’t just let murderers get away with their sin. Because He cares He punishes all wrongdoing.
Not to judge would be immoral. Imagine the court scene: the judge walks in and sees the overwhelming evidence against the man who attacked the girl, and then the judge stands up and says he’s a loving guy and so he will let the offender go free. That judge would have been unrighteous. Wrong deeds carry a penalty. God must punish our rebellion. That is why Jesus came to this earth and died as a substitute taking our punishment. He could do this as He was God and it is God whom we have offended. We will all face God one day and give an account for our lives. The Bible says, ‘for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ’.
There is no other book, internet article or blog that deals so thoroughly with the subject of sin as the Bible does. The good news is that the Bible also thoroughly explains the remedy for sin.
Sin is always serious, because it separates us from God who is holy and who cannot tolerate any sin. It brings God’s guilty verdict on us. We were created to know God in a personal way, yet our rejection of God, in breaking His commands, has cut us off from Him.
Sin is missing the mark, or falling short of God’s requirements. It is a deviation from all that is right – an act of wilful disobedience to God. The Bible pictures sin in different ways:
- It is like a burden too heavy for us to carry;
- It is like a chain from which we cannot free ourselves;
- It is like dirt we cannot wash off;
- It is like a debt we owe God but can never pay;
- It is like a disease for which we cannot find a cure.
Yet Jesus said of Himself, to a crowd of people to whom He was preaching, ‘I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’
The pictures of sin above leave us in a dire state if we are left there. However, because Jesus takes upon Himself the sin of the world… The burden can be removed;
- The chain can be broken;
- The dirt can be cleaned up;
- The debt can been paid, and
- the disease can be cured.
The way God describes our sin-filled life makes it look more like a rubbish dump than a thing of beauty. Here is what the Bible says are some of the things on the dump…
‘…sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarrelling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.’(Galations 5:19 – 21)
This is serious stuff, isn’t it? This is what God wants to clear up. We can’t do it ourselves; we need God to step in. When God begins to work in someone’s life he or she begins to become aware that they are sinful in the sight of God. After all, He is holy; we are not. God diagnoses us as sinners, not to leave us condemned and written off, but so that He might cure us. He wants to take away guilt and give us new life in the Lord Jesus.
The Bible says, ‘“Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”(Isaiah 1:18)
Sin is serious, and has consequences, but God calls us to come to Him, turn away from our sin and allow Him to forgive us, clean us and change us.
When we talk of ‘the church’, sadly we are usually referring to a system devised by humans, not all of whom have truly repented of sin and put their trust in Jesus. If Christ is not truly their Lord, and the Bible is not their guide, there will be issues which are seen as hypocritical and un-Christian. As in any organisation there are going to be scandals because every individual is flawed and, as in a computer programme, sin acts like a virus in the whole set up.
When the Bible speaks of the church, it is referring to the body of true believers, who are trusting Jesus, seeking to follow and serve Him in the Christian community of the church. Sadly though, they too will fail. A Christian is a sinner, who should be living in such a way that sin has become abhorrent to him or her. Every Christian still has a nature which does wrong, and sometimes sin comes to the fore. It has been like this since the beginning. Jesus warned about these things in His teaching, and many of the little books in our New Testament are letters written to churches to sort out errors in belief or behaviour.
I liken the church to a hospital, not a showroom. There is going to be mess, but God still meets with His people as they gather together. I spend a fair amount of time in churches, and despite heart-breaking times, generally speaking, I have found them to be places of immense love, care and refreshment.
Some believe that when we die, getting into heaven will be dependent upon a sort of weighing of our good deeds against our bad, and most reckon that, actually, they’re pretty good.
But first: what does it mean to be good? We argue that if we haven’t done anything desperately wrong, and we’re not a murderer or a paedophile, then surely we’re OK with God? The Bible teaches differently. We will be judged by God’s standards, not our own. God is perfect – He has never done anything wrong because He is so pure and holy. His character is the standard of perfection. Being honest with ourselves we know that all of us have fallen short of this standard. We have all done things that we know are wrong, however insignificant they may seem to us.
The Apostle Paul, who penned the book of Romans, concluded, ‘all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3 v. 23). Let us not compare ourselves with each other, but rather with God.
Secondly, we are aware that we are not the people we should be. We all feel guilty for some things we have done. We know we haven’t met our standards of morality in life, let alone God’s standards. Looking at Jesus’ summary of God’s commands leaves us all condemned: ‘Love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength … and love your neighbour as yourself.’ (Mark 12:30 – 31) We know we do not do these things. The definition of ‘neighbour’ according to Jesus is literally everyone, including our enemies. Compared to a perfect God we don’t do well.
Thirdly, to God morality isn’t the ultimate standard. According to the Bible, it is our response to God.
God created the world and us. He gives us life, but we ignore Him. That is the worst disobedience. We don’t put God as number one in our lives. He is often not even a footnote in our short existence.
The Bible does not leave us to wallow in our own godless state. Instead, it teaches that God loved us so much that He sent Jesus, who lived a perfect life, went around doing good, but then who died on the cross to take our punishment for the wrong of which we are each guilty. We don’t need to try to be good enough. We will never be good enough. We cannot become right with God by ourselves – we have to rely on the only thing that is sufficient to cover our sins – the forgiveness that is offered by Jesus, through His death on the cross. We neglect it at our peril.
There’s a quirky song in Yorkshire called, ‘On Ilkley Moor bah t’at’. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. It describes a man dying after walking on the Moor without his hat! He’s buried, eaten by worms, the worms eaten by ducks, and then us eating the ducks! The final verse starts with the line, ‘Then we will all have eaten thee…’
Alright, it’s slightly bizarre and a bit of fun, but on a serious note change and decay affects us all; our bodies will one day die and decompose. Was Bertrand Russell was right, though, when he said ‘When I die I rot’? The Bible teaches that view is profoundly wrong. We are not just bodies, but have an eternal existence.
When someone says something that ‘hurts’ you, it is not your body they have hurt, but your feelings, the real, inner you. The Bible teaches that each of us has a soul and a spirit, and that it is the soul that they have hurt. The Bible insists that the soul and spirit live forever. That is why the Bible can say, ‘…people are destined to die once and after that face judgement…’ – Hebrews 9:27. The Bible states that when our earthly body dies that is not the end; the real us will continue eternally.
Some people say, ‘But no-one has ever come back from the dead to tell us about it.’ Of course, this is not true – Jesus did that very thing. Jesus died, and rose again, and when He did He spoke of heaven and warned of hell.
One of the main authors of the New Testament, Paul, said, ‘if Jesus had not been raised our preaching is useless, and so is your faith’(1 Corinthians 15 v. 14). It’s true; this is where Christianity stands or falls – the resurrection of the historical Jesus. It’s amazing that the New Testament never tries to prove the resurrection, it assumes it. The first century person just believed it. Why? Because of the empty tomb – there is no way round it. There are six independent testimonies to it in the New Testament, and three of them are by eye witnesses.
The tomb where Jesus was buried, though guarded (by probably 16 Roman guards) was empty three days after Jesus was buried there. It is described in the Bible as being sealed, secure and setwith a guard (Matthew 27 v. 66). If Jesus did not rise, how do you account for the empty tomb? Here are a few ideas that people have suggested, and my replies to them:
Number 1: The disciples stole the body.
This is an interesting idea, and was first put about by the guards who were supposed to be guarding the tomb and the body. They were bribed to say that while they slept the disciples came and stole the body of Jesus (Matthew 28 v. 13). First, soldiers would not dare to fall asleep on duty for they knew the bitter consequences if they were caught. But more importantly, if I was a barrister in a court of law I would want to ask them how they knew if they were asleep!
Perhaps more significantly though, I would want to ask why would they want to steal the body and then say Jesus was risen from the dead? To propagate a lie? Why did they all face torture and ultimately die for their belief if it was just a hoax? And how would they have stolen the body? Within hours of Jesus’ death and burial they would have had to formulate a plan to get past the soldiers who were there protecting the body because the Jewish leaders had expressed fear that his body would be stolen. They then had to sneak past the soldiers, move a huge stone which was sealed to the grave, unwrap the dead body of Jesus, then carry His naked corpse away from the tomb to do what with it? No Jew would have carried the body, as that would render him ceremonially unclean. And where would they have put it?
No, these disciples were convinced that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Number 2: The authorities stole the body.
That would make more sense. Neither Roman nor Jewish leaders would have wanted any reminder of the significant life of Jesus orthe fact that they sent Him for crucifixion. But when Christianity was growing and they were doing everything they could to stop it, why not just produce the body, parade it rominently, and Christianity would have been crushed. They had no body to produce because they hadn’t stolen it.
Number 3: The women went to the wrong tomb in their distress – it was a mistake caused by confusion.
Grief is a terrible thing. Nevertheless, we do read that the women who followed Jesus ‘observed the tomb and how His body was laid’ before ‘they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils’ (Luke 23:55 – 56). We know too, that where Jesus was buried was not in a graveyard but in a garden where there was a new tomb in which no one had yet been buried (John 19:41). But the question remains whether they had still made a mistake. Then why didn’t the authorities just go to the right tomb and produce the body when they wanted to stop the spread of Christianity? Also, it seems rather far fetched that all the other followers of Jesus also went to the wrong tomb. Further, the risen Jesus showed Himself alive and risen from the dead to literally hundreds of people before His ascension to heaven.
Number 4: Jesus didn’t really die, but swooned into unconsciousness as He hung on the cross in such agony and trauma.
This theory is not a new one. It was first suggested by Venturini in the 16th century. But the argument is really saying that Jesus was beaten, nailed to a cross, declared dead by professional executioners, then had a spear put through His side from which came blood and water, was bound in spice-filled grave clothes, then buried in a sealed tomb. In this grave, He survived three days in a damp cave with no food or drink, revived, got out of His grave clothes, pushed a large rock door out of the way (something which two physically fit people could not do), got past the armed guard protecting the grave, and then walked several miles on feet which had been impaled with nails.
No, there is no plausible objection to the resurrection, it is clearly historical. That is why when people carefully look at the evidence for the resurrection they become convinced that it really happened. It was prophesied in the Old Testament as well as repeatedly by Jesus. The risen Jesus was seen by hundreds of people. Frightened disciples were transformed into people who would go on the streets to proclaim Christ, and later lay down their lives because they were followers of Him. The resurrection of Jesus was recorded or referred to by Jewish and Roman historians, as well as Christians, and leaves Jesus accomplishing something which no other person has ever been able to do.
There are those who argue that there is no absolute standard of right and wrong. So that what one may see as alright, another might see as wrong and vice versa. This is common post-modern thinking, but it doesn’t work. Like it or not we live in a world of absolutes.
There are rules and guidelines that need to be followed when constructing a building to ensure that it is built correctly. They are not invented to spoil our fun of building crooked buildings that will be a danger to people. Of course not. These absolutes, these rules are made for our long term good and our safety.
It is the same with living. There are absolute standards laid down by God Himself.
Some time ago my son bought a wardrobe from IKEA. Being a typical male he charged on ahead without reading the instructions. It looked simple enough and he thought he could quickly knock it together. He would gladly admit he is no carpenter but this wasn’t exactly a tough job. Two hours later, as he was struggling to find where the final pieces went, he presumed IKEA had made a mistake and included the wrong parts. It was then that he realised he had built the wardrobe back to front. How stupid he felt! Why didn’t he follow the instruction sheet provided? Why didn’t he do the obvious thing and follow the guidelines? It would have saved him time and a load of mess, and the stress level he experienced would not have been an issue.
Unfortunately, and more seriously, we humans do something quite similar. We totally ignore the Creator’s instructions, think we can go it alone, do our own thing, but end up in a whole heap of trouble.
God is the Creator of the universe. He brought it into being, and He sustains it. He has, therefore, every right to bring standards into the world that are irreplaceable and unchanging. Some of them we easily agree with: murder is wrong; as is paedophilia; but we then begin to struggle with a few that we want to call ‘grey areas’. We want to challenge whether homosexual activity really is wrong. And we prefer to excuse a little lie.
We are soon on shaky ground, because we are leaving the Creator’s instructions behind and, in effect, saying to Him, ‘we know best’.
God made the world; God sustains the world; one day, God will judge the world. These things considered it is right and fair that God sets the standards. God rules according to His laws.
The trouble is we love sin too much. We enjoy doing wrong. That is why God the Father sent Jesus the Son to be the Saviour of the world.
Imagine for a moment you are suffering from a dreadful illness. In a hope to get better you drink something pink-looking from a bottle sincerely believing it to be medicine. In actual fact it is poison. Tragedy is certain to follow.
Sincerity can be a helpful thing, but truth is far more important than even being sincere. There is a difference between deciding what to believe and listing your favourite ten songs in order. One has an absolute answer, the other is subjective.
Jesus said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me – John 14:6. Eternal life and eternal death are such important issues that we have to look beyond sincerity. We need truth.
With issues of this magnitude we must resist the danger of allowing personal feelings to keep us from the objective truth there is in Jesus. Faith in Him is not a question of taste and preference, but a matter of eternal significance. The notion ‘That’s okay for you but not for me’ is clearly wrong here. It’s not acceptable.
The issue of a relationship with God is absolutely crucial because mistakes have eternal consequences. It is vital, therefore, that our personal beliefs are correct.
Though there may be different interpretations concerning some less crucial teachings of the Bible, all the major truths are very clear to those who simply take on board what the Bible teaches. There are even summaries in the New Testament of its basic teaching, ‘…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve – 1 Corinthians 15:3 – 4. and, ‘Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst – 1 Timothy 1:15.
It is an abuse to try to change the emphasis of the Bible’s teaching simply because what it says is unpalatable and cuts across our own beliefs. The truth of the Bible (God’s Word) is plain to all who will honestly read it.
The Bible teaches that there is a devil. He is an angelic being created by God, probably long before our world was made. Satan, the devil, wanted God’s throne. He was hungry for power and control, so led a rebellion against his Creator. He was cast of out of heaven, to hell, which was made by God for the devil and his angels. Jesus described what it was like when He said, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven – Luke 10 v. 18.
Ever since, Satan’s subtle device has been to try to make people imitators of him and turn against God. He has power, but not absolute power. He can do incredible things, but it is foolish to dabble with anything to do with Satan. As his banishment from heaven shows, he is doomed.
Early in the Bible God tells His people, ‘Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritualist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord, and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you – Deuteronomy 18 v. 10 – 12.
Whether it is the Ouija board, a horoscope, fortune telling, tarot cards, or palm reading, God forbids it. This isn’t because He is against us, but because He loves us and wants the very best for us. Would He die for us if this was not true? He wants to protect us from the things and beings that might harm us, even if they appear at first, innocent and fun.
A person can know fullness of joy and peace through knowing God. Jesus, though tempted by Satan himself, resisted the devil’s empty offers of pleasure, lived, died and was resurrected, so that we too might be able to resist the devil today.
One day the devil will be bound, and his deceit and trickery will be over. The Bible says he will face horrific judgment and never be able to escape – See the description in Revelation 20 v. 2, 3 & 10.
Take God’s advice and avoid all things to do with the devil, or contacting the dead. It’s extremely dangerous and, as the example of Satan proves, leads to separation from God.
If you have already been involved, I encourage you to turn from these things, ask that the blood of the Lord Jesus will cleanse you from all sin, and that God’s Holy Spirit will come to live within you. There is a dramatic incident of this happening in the days of the early church, which culminated in the new Christians burning a vast number of books about the magic arts – Acts 19 v. 11 – 19.
The cause of war is on all occasions due to the sinfulness, greed and weakness of humanity. Some wars were started to bring about peace, others to gain, keep or regain power and territory. Others are simply a struggle to advance a leader’s ego.
Sadly, there have been religious wars. Some religions even believe it is legitimate and right to fight to spread their cause. This is not the case with Christianity. Jesus told his followers to ‘turn the other cheek’ and later when one of them (Peter) failed to do this and cut off someone’s ear with a sword, Jesus healed the injured person before commanding Peter to put away his sword. One of Jesus’ titles is the Prince of Peace.
Therefore, when wars have been fought in the name of Jesus the perpetrators have been wrong and misguided. When someone fights in the name of Jesus it is like someone carrying out a crime in your name when you have specifically commanded him not to do so. It would not be fair to blame you for that crime, nor to blame wars on Jesus, even if they have been fought in His name.
Politics and religion stir strong feelings, but someone trusting in and obeying the instructions of Jesus will find that He calms aggression and gives a genuine concern and compassion to all. Jesus commanded Christians to love the people around us to the same degree that they love themselves. He commands us
to love our enemies. These are not impossible instructions, for He assures us that He will give us all the help we need in order to obey.
Yes, in the following two videos, you will find American Scientist Dr. Grady, explaining briefly how the earth couldn’t be millions or billions of years old due to the evidence we see all around us.
Christians often get so passionate about it. While Jesus was hanging on a rugged tree put into the shape of a cross, bleeding and dying, He wasn’t just suffering physically, but spiritually too. He was taking upon Himself the sins of the world.
That is why the cross of Jesus is our only means of forgiveness. Because Jesus died, and rose from the dead, you and I have access to God!
God offers this forgiveness, rescue and restoration to everyone. He offers it to you! There is no other route. Jesus is the only way. That’s why it’s so important what you do with Him. Salvation is a free gift, offered to everyone, but like any gift, it has to be received or accepted before it becomes truly yours.
I recently bought a 48 box of Smarties for my grandsons, from one of those big wholesalers. When I took it home and told them I had a present for them they were, as ever, very excitable. I pulled the box of Smarties out of the bag. They could hardly believe their eyes; 48 tubes are almost too much for three little boys to comprehend.
Though I had bought the gift, told them about it, and even held it out and offered it to them, it wasn’t truly theirs until they received and accepted it from me. At that point it was theirs and they could fully enjoy it and all its ‘benefits’.
Jesus’ death is a little like that. It is a gift we have to accept, not a reward we deserve. If a person rejects or neglects the gift of Jesus, then the responsibility of that choice is entirely his or hers. The Bible says the result of sin is death – but God’s gift is eternal life – Romans 6 v. 23. The big question is, will you accept it?